Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis has made up his mind that the Pentagon will not provide Pakistan the rest of a prime U.S military reimbursement fund allocated to the nation for 2016, a decision that could hint at a tough take by the Trump administration on Islamabad.
The Pentagon declared its decision to not give $50 million in “coalition support funds” in a statement yesterday, citing it had ascertained Pakistan had not taken “adequate steps” against Haqqani network, the terror outfit accused of several attacks on civilians and Army attacks in neighboring country Afghanistan.
“This move does not diminish the importance of the sacrifices that the Pakistani Army has undertaken over last years,” said Adam Stump, a Pentagon spokesperson, in the statement.
The decision comes barely a year after Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter refused to give $300 million from the same fund citing the same reason that “Pakistan was not taking strict action against the Haqqani terrorists”.
Last year, Pakistan was given $900 million in coalition support funds, $550 million of which Islamabad has already got. The Pentagon claimed that $300 million, however, had already been held back and redistributed, which means that no more of the funds available to Pakistan from its 2016 allotment. The Coalition Support Fund is the key source of military aid for Pakistan and is regarded a reimbursement for Pakistan’s military backing for United States operations in the territory.
The statement released on Friday maintains that the 2016 funds had to be “released or reprogrammed” ahead of the termination of their valid period. He further said that the move to block the financial aid does not “prejudge” the White House and Pentagon’s next strategy for Afghanistan and the adjacent areas, now called as the “South Asia Strategy”.
“In this year’s budget, Pakistan is allotted another $900 million, $400 million of which could also not be given to Pakistan for same reasons once more. Pakistan has got over $14 billion in coalition support funds since 2002, as per Pentagon.
The Haqqani network has been accused of several attacks in Afghanistan, counting the May suicide blast that claimed lives of over 100 people in a busy, bustling Kabul junction and a sophisticated infiltration of an Afghan military base in Mazar-e-Sharif that left dead or injured over 100 Afghan army personnel.